Alumni News

May 4, 2019 at 4:39 pm

Ramakrishnan Receives Honorary Degree from OHIO

Honorary degree recipient Venkatraman "Venki" Ramakdrishnan speaks at gradute commencement. Photo by Ben Siegel

Honorary degree recipient Venkatraman “Venki” Ramakrishnan speaks at graduate commencement. Photo by Ben Siegel

Ohio University President M. Duane Nellis conferred an OHIO Honorary Doctor of Science upon Nobel Prize laureate and OHIO alumnus Dr. Venki Ramakrishnan.

“A graduate of Ohio University, Venki Ramakrishnan is President of the Royal Society and Group Leader at the Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, UK.  In his research he is particularly noted for his contributions related to understanding the atomic structure of the ribosome—the site within living cells where the genetic information is read to synthesize proteins from amino acids,” Dr. Nellis said.

Ramakrishnan earned a Ph.D. in Physics in 1976 from the College of Arts & Sciences at Ohio University.

Ramakrishnan won the 2009 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work on the structure and function of the ribosome, jointly with Thomas A. Steitz and Ada E. Yonath. He also received the Louis-Jeantet Prize for Medicine. He was knighted in Great Britain in 2012 and was elected President of the Royal Society in 2015 for a five-year term. He is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, Leopoldina and EMBO, and a foreign member of the Indian National Science Academy.

“And we now are honored to add another award to his other immense recognitions,” Dr. Nellis noted at OHIO’s May 3 Graduate Commencement.

OHIO Executive Vice President and Provost Dr. Chaden Djalali read the honorary degree citation:

Dr. Venkatraman “Venki” Ramakrishnan: A versatile and innovative scientist, you have fundamentally advanced our understanding of the ribosome, the molecular machine that builds proteins from amino acids in every living cell, using information contained in DNA.

Soon after you were awarded a Ph.D. in Physics from Ohio University in 1976, you turned your attention to the study of biology, and quickly became a key contributor to advancing structural biology and our knowledge of the ribosome in particular. Your work brought together an array of experimental methods to produce biological materials in a crystalline state, and to probe their properties using neutron scattering and x-ray crystallography with innovative approaches.

You employed novel analysis techniques in combination with your measurements to reveal unprecedented detail in the subunits integral to the ribosome, and hence an understanding of its overall structure. The resulting knowledge made it possible for you to lay the groundwork for understanding the nature of antibiotic binding, which enables development of improved antibiotics for future medical applications.

Your accomplishments have received numerous accolades. In 2009 you were awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, along with Thomas A. Steitz and Ada Yonath, for your work on the atomic structure and function of the ribosome. In 2010, you received India’s second highest civilian honor, the Padma Vibhushan, and in 2012, you were knighted by Queen Elizabeth II for your services to Molecular Biology.

Your commitment to advancing science and its benefits to humanity continues through your service as President of the Royal Society, the oldest scientific academy in continuous existence.

The 2019 Distinguished Professor Steve Evans (left) poses for a photo with 2019 honorary degree recipient and Nobel Prize winner Venkatraman "Venki" Ramakrishnan (right).

The 2019 Distinguished Professor Steve Evans (left) poses for a photo with 2019 honorary degree recipient and Nobel Prize winner Venkatraman “Venki” Ramakrishnan (right). Photos by Ben Siegel

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